How To Find A Really Collectible Private Plate?

Unless you have an unlimited pocket and have tens of thousands to spend, one of the biggest and most fun challenges is spotting a potential goldmine – a private plate that has no current significance but could be worth a fortune a few years down the line. “It’s all about patience and a keen eye,” says Tom from

Finding a really good private plate involves a lot of legwork and a good eye.  There are companies who specialize in buying private plates and they can help you find what you are looking for.  Sometimes the plate can create an illusion of a name when reading from a distance; you don’t necessarily have to have a faithful and exact replica of the word that you want.  It can be a question of how the letters and numbers are combined –  this can create the effect of the word without spelling the actual word.  It’s all a bit of an illusion.  Take for instance the number plate, ‘SH12 LEY’ – this would clearly be read as the female name, ‘Shirley’, but it is a slight optical illusion, the numerals 12 being used to create the effect of the letter, ‘R’.

Once you get the hang of how to arrange letters and numbers, it’s just a question of spotting something that you think creates a desirable word.  This year, the advent of the 69 plate at the end of August has created a lot of interest in standard number plates due to its connotations.  The DVLA is supposed to withhold anything they think will be offensive or racist but some plates which the public has found unacceptable have clearly slipped through the net, meat and drink to the tabloids for a news story.

The other way to potentially spot a lucrative number plate is to trawl sales sites and try and place any potential offerings in the context of society.  A standard name can be dull and boring until it finds fame for some reason.  There are also words that become famous via branding; if there was a car number plate that represented the word ‘Google’ just think how much that would be worth now?! Or how about the favorite text speaks, ‘LOL’ – that would have been meaningless to everyone 30 years ago.

Private number plate sales are big business so the man in the street has to pit his wits against companies who quickly snap up what they perceive to be good sellers.  But it can be done with a good eye

What happens if you see a private plate that you want to buy?

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Who owns the registration plates are partially protected information and this applies to private plates just as much as it does to standard vehicle registrations.  Plate ownership and access to this data are controlled by the DVLA.  Certain regulatory bodies like the Police have access to it but a member of the public cannot find out who owns a plate because this would be in breach of the Data Protection Act.  So, if you do spot a private plate you would like to acquire, you may have to use other more diverse and cunning resources to find the driver of the vehicle. 

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